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Is This Hilal?

 

 

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Is this Hilal?                                    Omar Afzal Ph.D.

With a recent spurt in the observation of the earliest crescent moon around the world by Muslims and professional observers , a new issue has emerged for the Shari’ah experts to resolve: What is a Hilal?  Look at the following three pictures:

The earliest visibility of the crescent moon is claimed in the following different ways:

  1. Observable by naked eye to anyone with normal vision;
  2. Observed by a few in the crowd at the same location, but not by all;

Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2005

 ICOP member Mr. Usman Duhhu: "Eight of us, out of the 15 in the group, saw the crescent about 20 minutes after the sunset."

  1. Observed by naked eye usually after tracking through a binocular;

Tuesday 04 October 2005:

- Australia: ICOP member Mr. Afroz Ali said: "The moon was sighted in Australia on 4th October…." (?)
- India: ICOP member Dr. Sultan Ismail said: "As the Moon was not sighted anywhere near Chennai on 4th night..."

(Australian claim is seriously doubtful because the moon was not visible in Chennai several hours later)

Dec. 2, 2005

- ICOP member Dr. John Caldwell mentioned that he sighted the crescent from Fort Davis (TX) by naked eye.
- ICOP member Mr. Javad Torabinejad mentioned that he saw the crescent by naked eye from Blacksburg (VA), he added: "The crescent was very thin; if it were not for the binoculars, the naked eye sighting was not possible!"

  1. Observed only through a binocular or a telescope, but not by naked eye.

October 4, 2005

# Iran: ICOP member Mr. Mousa Zamani sighted the crescent by binoculars, whereas he didn't see it by naked eye.

Sept. 2005 New Moon Crescent Observation Report

Location =Tucson, Az  Longitude =110.9645 W Latitude = 32.4204 N Elevation = 842 meters Time Zone = -7.0 hours

Surface conditions at   18:55 (MST)Tucson International Airport (805 m):Temperature =  91 (Degrees  Relative Humidity    =  31 (Percent)Atmospheric Pressure =  29.96 (Inches)

Crescent first observed through 8” SC telescope:                Time  =  18:39       Altitude  =   8.7 degrees
Crescent first observed through 9x63 binoculars:                Time  =  18:57       Altitude  =   4.9 degrees
Crescent first observed through 5x25 binoculars:                Time  =  19:00       Altitude  =   4.3 degrees

The crescent was followed in all three instruments until it set behind trees at 19:15.  Even though I knew exactly where to look (due to the clouds), I never saw the Moon with the naked eye.

Sunset (at sea level)  = 18:49    Moonset (at sea level)  = 19:30 Time from new moon at 18:39 = 31 hr. 50 min.
Moon lag time   =  41  minutes   Relative Altitude =  8.45  degrees Elongation from sun = 13.77  degrees
Crescent width = 26 arcseconds   Illumination         =   1.44  percent

December 2, 2005

- ICOP member Mr. Mohammad Zahed Aram was not able to see the crescent by binoculars despite the clear sky.
- ICOP member Mr. Alireza Mehrani (Reporter $ Photographer)

Location: 200 km west of Esfahan, Iran           Lat: 33? 15.23' N  Lon: 50? 09.96' E
Sunset (at sea level): 17:01:44                       Sunset (observed): 16:58
Crescent first observation through 15x80 binoculars by Alireza Mehrani: Time: 17:05:40 LT
Moon Alt: 2.982                                                Elongation: 12.819

Crescent final observation through 25x100 & 15x70 binoculars by Ali Ebrahimi and Abbas Ahmadiyan:

Time: 17:23:25                Moon Alt: 0.104                Elongation: 12.934

Observers: Alireza Mehrani (15x80 bin), Ali Ebrahimi (25x100 bin), Abbas Ahmadiyan (15x70 bin), Saeed Janghorban (15x70 bin), Mahdi Mansuri (20x60 bin),  Mohammad Soltanolkottabi (15x70 bin)."

- Iraq: ICOP member Mr. Bacil Moudhaffar: "Crescent was not seen Friday, 2/12/2005  even with binocular."

 (Note: Iraq is west of Esfahan from where 3 out of 6 observers claimed sighting and three could not see)

(In response to a query: Can you see a crescent in the picture submitted by Mehrani, especially after it was not seen in Iraq farther west of Isfahan?

Odeh (Icoproject) Yes I can see the crescent but it is difficult. Actually this reminds me of our crescent in 1999, you can see its picture at: http://www.icoproject.org/icop/jucres.html although it is almost invisible in the picture but we did see it with confidence!

  1. Observed through a telescope only;
  1. Observed through a telescope by a professional astronomer, but not by others at the same location and through the same telescope.

New Moon Crescent Observation Report

=============================

2 November 2005                Location  = Tucson, Arizona (USA)  Gates Pass         Longitude = 111.10 W                  Latitude  =  32.22 N               Elevation = 963 meters      Time Zone = -7.0 hours

Topocentric and local time values from “AccurateTimes”:

Sunset (at sea level)  =  17:38  Moonset (at sea level) =  18:00    Time from new moon at   17:43   =  22 hr. 10 min
Moon lag time  = 21 minutes                  Relative Altitude = 4.00  degreeS                Elongation from sun = 11.99  degrees
Crescent width  =  21 arcsecond                 Illumination = 1.1   percent
 

Crescent first observed through 8” SC telescope:            Time = 17:43 Altitude = 1.2 degrees

Lots of cirrus clouds interfered with the observation, but they were thinning and there were breaks.  The Moon wasn’t

visible through the breaks until 17:43 at the predicted time and position. The image was dull and smooth, and I didn’t note any other characteristics, because I wanted the others to see it.  However, at least four other people tried, but were not successful.  Focus was very critical for this observation, and I believe that was the reason for lack of success.

Observer(s):       Jim Stamm

  1. Claimed by naked-eye and a professional observer from an area outside well-defined non-visibility curves.

Nov. 2, 2005

Along with large group of brothers, we arrived at the sighting place shortly before sunset. Mashallah we observed a beautiful sunset on a very clear skies. at about 5:38pm. There horizon is very clear at the sighting place.

At about 5:42pm I saw the very very thin, illusive Hilal, to the left of the position where the sun had just set -- spanning the distance from the seven o'clock and two o'clock hand of an analog clock. The Hilal's elevation was less than one finger width. The Hilal was indeed very very thin and illusive as such continuous observation of it was limited to few seconds. I was only able to continually observe it until about 5:41pm.

One other brother with the group, Brother ----- was able to see it at the point it was first sighted. Our imam saw it at first sight but because of it's illusive nature was not certain of his sighting.

Nov. 2, 2005 Shawwal moon sighting claims have forced the Muslims to seriously consider the ‘verifiability’ issue.

 
Appendix I

Date:        Sun, 25 Dec 2005 18:07:56 +0400      From:                "Mohammad Odeh" <modeh@icoproject.org> To:          "Omar Afzal" <omarafzal1@yahoo.com>, "ICOP Mailing List" <ICOP@yahoogroups.com>
Subject:    Re: sighting crescent

Assalamu Alykom Dr. Omar,

Yes I can see the crescent but it is difficult. Actually this reminds me of our crescent which we saw in 1999, you can see its picture at: http://www.icoproject.org/icop/jucres.html although it is almost invisible in the picture but we did see it with confidence! Capturing the thin crescent on film is not as easy as seeing it by naked eye through the telescope.

 As for why not all the observers were able to see it, this depends on the equipment and the experience, there is a great difference between an observer trying to see the crescent in the eyepiece when the telescope is exactly pointing at the crescent than another observer who is searching for the crescent by the telescope.

 Moh'd

Best Regards

**********************************************************************

Mohammad Shawkat Odeh                        Jordanian Astronomical Society (JAS)

P.O. Box 224, Blue Tower Building                Khalifa Street, Abu-Dabi, UAE

Mobile: (00971) 50-8215336                modeh@icoproject.org ICOP URL: http://www.icoproject.org/ JAS URL:  http://www.jas.org.jo/

**********************************************************************

Omar Afzal wrote: > Dear Odeh,

> I would like you to look for the D. Qa'da moon picture of Dec.2 on ICOP web by Mehrani. Do you see any 'Hilal'?

> Another question is why only one (or two) could see it, but not the other four?

> Omar